adidas ball #2
(Getty Images)

MLS Releases 2011 Conference Alignment, Roster Rules

NEW YORK – Major League Soccer announced today that the Houston Dynamo will move to the Eastern Conference in 2011. Combined with the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC joining MLS as expansion clubs in 2011, the League now has two conferences of nine teams each.

Upon joining MLS in 2006, Houston became the easternmost club in the Western Conference. The two-time MLS Cup Champions are now the westernmost team in the Eastern Conference. Houston’s average distance from its Eastern Conference foes is 194.6 miles shorter than its average distance to the nine Western Conference clubs. This year, every team will play each of the other 17 clubs once at home, once away, for a balanced, 34-game regular season.

The League’s 16th season begins Tuesday, March 15 with Seattle Sounders FC hosting the LA Galaxy at 9:30 p.m. ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and MLS First Kick 2011 is presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. The Houston Dynamo open at home against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 19. The clubs in each conference for 2011 are as follows, in alphabetical order:

Chivas USA
Colorado Rapids
FC Dallas
LA Galaxy
Portland Timbers
Real Salt Lake
San Jose Earthquakes
Seattle Sounders FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Chicago Fire
Columbus Crew
D.C. United
Houston Dynamo
Sporting Kansas City
New England Revolution
New York Red Bulls
Philadelphia Union
Toronto FC

Also today, MLS posted its roster rules for 2011 on CLICK HERE for the 2011 MLS Roster Rules.

In addition, MLS has formed a joint task force with the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) that will study the development of the game in Canada and look to provide players in Canada, regardless of citizenship, the best possible environment and opportunities. The task force will initially be comprised of seven members:

  • J. Todd Durbin, Executive Vice President, MLS
  • Victor Montagliani, Vice President, CSA
  • Peter Montopoli, General Secretary, CSA
  • Stephen Hart, Coach, Canada Men’s National Team
  • Bob Lenarduzzi, President, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
  • Earl Cochrane, Director of Team and Player Operations, Toronto FC
  • Nick De Santis, Technical Director, Montreal Impact

The task force will closely monitor the effects of youth development initiatives and MLS roster rules and on Canadian clubs and make recommendations for future changes, if necessary. Beginning this year, Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC are required to have a minimum of three Canadian domestic players on their rosters. This minimum also will apply to the Montreal Impact when the club makes its MLS debut in 2012.